Read 2008/19 – Slan

Book: 19
Title: Slan
Author: A. E. van Vogt
Genre: Science Fiction
Why did you get this book? In my early days I liked van Vogts science fiction. I bought this book in June 1979.
Did you enjoy the book? Yes. This is part of my project to revisit some of the first science fiction authors I read. I recently read van Vogt’s The War Against the Rull
Was the author new to you? No. I have a fair few of his books.
Would you read something by this author again? Have done and will do again.
Are you keeping it or passing it on? I am keeping it.
Anything else? At the start of the story our hero Jommy Cross is a nine year old super human. He is a Slan – mutated humans with super human strength and intelligence. Slans are natural telepaths but are easily detected because of their golden hairlike tendrils. Slans are feared by humans and are hunted down and murdered by the human government. Those that survive are in hiding. Jommy’s deceased father was a brilliant scientist who made a scientific discovery the can save the Slans. Jommy is to inherit this discovery when he comes of age. Jommy lives in isolation with his mother – knowing no other Slans. At the start of the tale his mother is murdered by government agents. Jommy manages to escape but is captured by a greedy human woman who hides him in the hope of using his telepathic abilities to steal stuff that she can later fence. The tale tells of Jommy’s growth to maturity, his discovery of a tendril less Slan community that are secretly living amongst the humans. These tendril less Slans hate the tendrilled Slans just as much as humans do. Eventually Jommy gains his fathers invention and uses it to discover why the tendrill less Slans hate the tendrilled Slans. He eventually saves the day for Slans. Van Vogt first serialized this book in the magazine Astounding Science Fiction from September to December 1940. The science in the book is scratchy and shows it’s age. It was fun to revisit this book after so many years but it demonstrates how the quality of good science fiction has increased over the decades.
Number of pages: 156
Total pages for the year: 4881


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